Skip to content

Yukon Party calls for Liberals to set leadership race rules

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon says ministers must resign before making bid for Liberal leader
Yukon Premier Sandy Silver announced Sept. 9 that he will be stepping down as premier and will not seek re-election for a fourth term as MLA. Now the Yukon Party wants the Yukon Liberal Party to lay out its rules for a leadership contest that will determine the next premier. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

The premier’s decision to resign did not come as a huge surprise to the Yukon’s opposition parties.

The official opposition flagged it four months ago. Now the Yukon Party wants the Liberals to lay out the stipulations for finding its next leader.

In a May 11 release, Brad Cathers, who is the MLA for Lake Laberge and the Yukon Party critic for democratic institutions, insinuated Premier Sandy Silver would be vacating the top post and triggering a Liberal leadership race.

At the time, cabinet communications for the Yukon government refuted the Yukon Party’s claim that Silver is “widely expected” to retire.

On Sept. 9, Silver told reporters that he will be stepping down as premier and will not be seeking re-election as MLA. A Yukon Liberal Party leadership contest will determine the next premier. Silver will stay on as premier until a new Liberal leader is picked.

Silver reiterated during his resignation announcement that retirement is not on the horizon.

READ MORE: Cabinet refutes Yukon Party claim that Silver is ‘widely expected’ to retire

In an interview on Sept. 12, Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said the announcement was no shocker since the premier has “largely been checked out” for some time.

“It really came as no surprise to us because his behavior over the past year has been pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in being the premier anymore,” Dixon said, adding that over the summer Silver has done “very little by way of public activity.”

Dixon said he has a different perspective on Silver’s record than what Silver expressed in his Sept. 9 discourse.

“He’s left the Yukon in a very challenging position, and I think that whoever succeeds as leader of the Liberal Party will have a very uphill battle,” Dixon said.

For example, Dixon pointed out there are thousands of Yukoners without a family doctor, with “no measures or approach to change that in sight.”

READ MORE: Yukon Premier Sandy Silver stepping down

Dixon wants to know what the process for the Liberal’s leadership race will look like.

Dixon said the rules should set out that any sitting cabinet minister who wants to succeed Silver needs to relinquish their post to avoid inappropriate use of the position and resources on the campaign trail.

“The standard practice is if someone in cabinet is going to run for leader, they step away from their cabinet position,” he said.

“We’ve seen that across party lines across the country.”

Premier Heather Stefanson of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba had to step away from her cabinet role to run for party leader when then-premier Brian Pallister announced his resignation. Attorney General David Eby resigned from his positions in cabinet in order to run in the B.C. NDP leadership race after Premier John Horgan announced that he would not be seeking re-election.

Both Dixon and Kate White, leader of the Yukon NDP, commented on the challenging job and thanked Silver for his service.

White noted in an interview Sept. 12 the premiership over the last two-plus years involved making difficult decisions on COVID-19.

“I didn’t envy him,” she said.

With Silver at the helm, the Yukon Liberal Party and the Yukon NDP entered a Confidence and Supply Agreement that expires on Jan. 31, 2023.

Meanwhile, White said there are commitments under that agreement that the Liberal government has not achieved, such as the rollout of a public dental plan.

“We expect to see that moving forward,” she said.

In a Sept. 12 interview, the president of the Yukon Liberal Party looked back on Silver’s leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He was able to lead some pretty significant achievements and keep Yukoners safe and healthy to the best of any government’s ability, I think, throughout the globe,” Paolo Gallina said.

Gallina noted the decision to resign as premier was not an easy call for Silver.

“He felt that it was the right time for himself, for his community, for his family and friends, and for his team, and I support his decision, wholeheartedly,” Gallina said.

Gallina said Silver consulted the party on his decision. Gallina would not elaborate on when those internal conversations happened.

The timing and the rules of the leadership convention are yet to be determined. At this time, the party executive will not comment on whether or not cabinet ministers should remain in their roles when competing for the top spot.

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
Read more